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Dedicated Assistants vs. Assistant Pool Solutions — Which type of remote support best fits your needs?

Written by: Katie Hill

The Harvard Business Review makes a strong case for every senior leader to work with an executive assistant.

That’s because the return on investment for delegating admin tasks to an executive assistant is substantial. You instantly increase productivity and add hours back into your day. In truth, the right executive assistant can change your life.

When it comes to finding this assistant, using a remote staffing service can make it easy, low-risk, and quick to get started. There are two main types of assistant services to choose from — dedicated assistants and assistant pools. The big question is, which solution is best for you?

In this article, we’ll cover how to decide between a dedicated assistant or pooled solution. Typically, the decision comes down to the kind of support you need and whether it should be highly personalized or task-based.

First, let’s define what a dedicated assistant is and what a pooled solution is, along with the pros and cons of each.

What Are Dedicated Assistants?

Dedicated assistants are individuals who work as an assistant for clients on a one-on-one basis.

While the term dedicated assistants could technically include traditional in-office hires or freelancers, it typically refers to a specific remote staffing model that matches one (fully dedicated) remote assistant directly to one client.

Note: Dedicated doesn’t equal full-time. A part-time assistant or fractional executive assistant is still considered to be a dedicated assistant.

If you choose to look into a dedicated assistant, be sure to read more on the compliance of using remote assistants for the long term.

The pros of using a dedicated assistant:

  • Builds trust and continuity that can be more productive and effective
  • Perfect for long-term support
  • After they’ve been onboarded, they can pick up and run with most tasks
  • Requires less oversight and management
  • Best for tasks that require personalized finesse

The cons of using a dedicated assistant:

  • Can be more expensive than a pooled solution (but still more cost-effective than hiring in-house)
  • Depending on the staffing company, if an assistant quits or goes on vacation, you might not have a backup
  • Usually overqualified for data entry, one-off tasks, or simple projects

What Is A Pooled Solution For Remote Assistants?

A pooled solution uses a group (aka pool) of assistants to support specific tasks for a client.

Each task will be assigned to someone different based on skills or availability. Administrative assistant pooled solutions are typically less expensive and include access to a dashboard where you can post your tasks instead of sending them directly to an assistant. Once posted, your task can be picked up by any of the remote assistants on the platform.

The pros of using a pooled assistant solution:

  • Inexpensive and fast
  • Great for easy tasks like data entry
  • Perfect for anything that might need 24/7 support (someone in the pool will always have you covered)
  • You’re insulated from assistants changing jobs or leaving

The cons of using a pooled assistant solution:

  • Quality can vary, especially on more complex tasks
  • The assistant doing the work isn’t constant, so you won’t have someone taking the time to get to know your personal preferences
  • On a similar note, you have to spell out and submit every task (whereas a dedicated assistant will usually start to proactively manage things on their own)
  • Not recommended for anything that might require sensitive information (bank accounts, social security numbers, etc.)

It may take you more time to explain what you need than just doing it yourself (more on this later.)

How To Choose Between A Pooled And Dedicated Assistant Solution

The best way to choose between a dedicated assistant and an assistant pooled solution is to think about what type of support you’re looking for.

  • Were you working 14-hour days and decided you needed someone to take over your simple but necessary tasks, or did you want someone who can fully focus on running the backend of your business?
  • Did you want an experienced professional to review and streamline your processes or do you just want someone who can schedule a FedEx pickup for you?
  • Do you have the time to spell out exactly how you want something done, or would you prefer someone who can self-manage and pick up projects and run with them?

In other words, are you looking for a partner or maybe just a little help now and then?

When To Choose A Pooled Solution

If you’re looking for someone who can just take over simple tasks or provide some help now and then with short-term projects you may be fine using a pooled solution.

With these types of tasks, the remote assistant doesn’t necessarily need much training, background, or insight into your business to be able to get the task done. In other words, it doesn’t matter who does the work.

When To Choose A Dedicated Assistant

If you’re looking for someone who can take on more high-trust, specialized, or sensitive tasks, you’ll want a fully dedicated assistant.

For example, someone to manage your inbox, schedule critical appointments with high-value clients, or book your travel (where they’ll need to know if you like morning or evening flights, window or aisle, known travel ID, reward miles information, passport information, personal payment info).

This isn’t information just anyone should have access to—it requires genuine trust.

What Types Of Tasks Are Best Suited For Pooled Solutions?

Many executives underestimate the amount of personal detail (documented only in their heads) that goes into each task they do.

Until they go to delegate those tasks, they don’t fully comprehend how much direction they truly need to give to get the task done to their liking.

Here’s the biggest issue with pooled assistant solutions: The amount of time it takes you to assign the task (with all the details you’d like) cannot exceed the amount of time it would take you to do the task yourself.

But often, that’s precisely what happens.

For example, let’s say you want your assistant to schedule a meeting. You might think this is as simple as “Schedule a meeting with John Todd.”

However, if you use an administrative assistant pooled solution, you’d also need to include the following information in your request:

  • Which calendar system to use
  • What format you prefer your meetings to be in and how to label the invite
  • Any logins to Zoom, Google Calendar, conference line, or other relevant accounts
  • Share John Todd’s email address so the assistant can reach out and check his availability
  • If it’s an in-person meeting, where you’d like to meet him and the address
  • Etc.

You’ll need to provide this information every time you ask to submit a request to schedule a meeting, because, with a pooled solution, someone could take on this task you’ve never worked with before. So, while this seems like a simple request, doing it yourself might actually be more efficient.

This is one example among many. However, there are some tasks that don’t require this level of detail.

Tasks well-suited to a pooled remote assistant solution:

  • I’m looking for an item that I can’t find locally. Can you find me a place that will ship me this item?
  • Can you make me a reservation at a fancy steakhouse near my zip code for 4 people on this date and time?
  • Can you send flowers/a gift in this price range to the following address to arrive before a certain date?
  • Can you help find me some dog walker options in my neighborhood? Here’s my address.
  • Can you research hotels in this area code that have conference rooms large enough for 10 people and the cost to rent each for a week?
  • Can you try to find a store around my zip code that has the new Apple Watch in stock and then call to hold it for me?

If these are the types of tasks you’re hoping to get off your plate, there are many pooled solutions that would work for you.

What Types Of Tasks Are Best Suited For Dedicated Assistants?

Pooled solutions and AI tools will fail to meet many of a senior executive’s needs while actually saving time.

Dedicated assistants can work as your right hand — they integrate into your business and are able to create and follow processes for similar tasks that take into account your personal preferences.

Dedicated assistants are more than task-takers, they become strategic partners that can keep everything running behind the scenes so you can narrow your focus to business initiatives and the things only you can do.

If the tasks you’re looking to hand off look more like the ones below, a dedicated assistant solution is probably a better fit for you.

Tasks well-suited to a dedicated assistant:

  • Complex scheduling
  • Travel or event planning
  • Inbox management and/or email filtering
  • Bookkeeping
  • Monthly expense tracking
  • Complex research
  • Fielding calls
  • Setting appointments
  • Managing contracts
  • Etc…

But with the above, how can you ensure the quality of your dedicated assistant? What level of experience should you aim for?

While there are several companies offering highly experienced remote executive assistants, you’ll want to make sure that they can provide a long-term solution.

This is where subscription staffing tends to shine — because this model provides support, benefits, and W2 employment to its team, it has one of the highest retention rates in the industry. This means you get the peace of mind that your dedicated assistant will be able to integrate with your team for years instead of jumping at the next gig.

If you have decided upon a pooled solution, or don’t need a remote assistant who is senior, you can check out where to start your search in the section below.

Starting Your Search For A Remote Assistant

There are a few great places to begin your search for either a pooled or dedicated assistant.

If you want in-depth reviews of nearly every assistant company out there, one of our favorite sites is

Another good place to research remote assistant solutions is Glassdoor. If you want quality work, it’s important to find out whether or not the remote assistants that work for a company are pleased with the way things are done. Otherwise, you might submit a task and never hear back, or submit a task and get a half-done response.

Happy assistants are great assistants, so check out the company ratings and reviews from staff on Glassdoor before you move forward.

Next, check out the company’s website and see who their other clients are. Here are 6 things to look for:

  1. Are their businesses similar to yours?
  2. Is the site professional?
  3. Is the company onshore or offshore and does that matter to you?
  4. If you’re looking for a dedicated assistant, what is their team’s retention rate?
  5. What are the service plans like and is there one to fit your needs and budget?
  6. Do they offer a guarantee and what is their refund policy?

This phase of research will help to protect you from unforeseen issues and is an essential step before submitting a task or meeting with a representative from any solution in order to protect your valuable time.

The Final Decision: Dedicated Assistants vs. Pooled Solutions

So which solution is right for you?

Choose a Pooled Solution:

If you’re looking for someone who can take over simple tasks or just some help now and then with short-term projects you may be fine using a pooled solution.

Choose a Dedicated Assistant:

If you’re looking for someone who can take on more high-trust, specialized, or sensitive tasks, you’ll want a fully dedicated assistant.

Remember, your choice isn’t written in stone. If you try one and it doesn’t work out, pivot to the other. Either way, an amazing remote EA is one of the best decisions modern leaders can make.

Topic: Remote Executive Assistant

Published on August 16th, 2023

About the author: Katie Hill is a Content Writer at Boldly, which offers Premium Subscription Staffing for demanding executives and founders. When she isn't writing about remote work or productivity, she can be found adventuring in Colorado's backcountry.